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I Feed My Family Of Five For $100 A Week — Here's What A Week Of Groceries & Meals Looks Like For Us

With food costs continually going up, I had to get really strategic this week.

Hi! I'm Sydney, a stay-at-home mom of three, and I make homemade meals for my Colorado family every week.

the author

Each weekend, I plan all my family's meals for the upcoming week. This includes choosing the recipes I will make — via the internet and cookbooks — plus the actual shopping. I cook pretty much every meal every day due to a severe peanut allergy in my household. We don't rely on much takeout for this reason.

various recipes on a website

When planning each week, I start by looking at my local grocery store's weekly sales so I know what items will get me the most bang for my buck. Due to rising food costs and inflation, this first step has become more important than ever to my planning and budgeting lately.

With meal planning, up-front preparation is key — but it's also the most challenging thing. Here are a few tips and tricks that I use each week:

1) I pick recipes with ingredients that can be used for multiple meals (and in multiple ways). This also includes getting creative with leftovers. Sometimes eating leftovers all the time can get old, but I try to remember that I can always use different components of my leftovers to create new meals.

2) I prioritize what's on sale. For example, this week I was able to find two rotisserie chickens for $10 — and much of my produce was on sale.

3) I buy the cheapest store brand most of the time. Unless it's something that I'm unable to use due to the peanut allergy, an item I absolutely love (or if a different brand is on sale), store brand it is.

4) I ask my kids to help me! Feeding kids is a challenge. They change their minds constantly, and they seemingly get new taste buds every meal. When I ask them to help pick out recipes (usually with them looking at pictures), I find that they are more excited to eat them. 

Also, I'm lucky in that all my kids are small. All three are under eight, so I'm able to make our meals really stretch, portion-wise.

After planning my recipes this past Saturday afternoon, I spent exactly $107.38 for a week's worth of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. I try to stay as close to $100 as possible, but as mentioned, I've found it to be more difficult lately.

I find that as you continue to build your pantry, it's easier to spend within budget because you'll utilize staples you have already acquired. But for the purpose of this post, several pantry staples (like flour, oats, and brown sugar) were included in the $100 I spent. The only staples I did not include were oil and spices.

Here was this week's grocery haul. I get my groceries delivered because it keeps me from impulse purchases, saves me a lot of time, and if anyone has ever brought three young kids to a grocery store, well... you know it's a losing game.

Two other things to mention when it comes to portioning out meals in my home: My oldest eats lunch at school, so that's one less serving to worry about. My husband comes home for lunch every day, but he doesn't eat breakfast every day — which, BTW, I 100% disagree with because breakfast is the best.

Here's how the week went!

The very first thing I did was pull apart my rotisserie chickens while they were still warm. This way, the meat still falls off the bone and takes very little time.

Thankfully it was a quick job — because in no time, my kids and I were off to go skating. By the time we got home though, it was time to eat dinner and I didn't have much time to really prepare anything before meltdowns began.

I knew when ordering my groceries that the budget would be tight, so I was thankful to have spotted that 2/$10 rotisserie chicken deal so that I could use one for dinner that night and just do a quick roast of broccoli and potatoes to finish things off.

I added some herbs and spices to the vegetables and then roasted everything in the oven at 425 Fahrenheit until they became soft.

And, thankfully, that's all it took to get dinner on the table!

We even had a decent amount of leftovers, which I was thankful for. I put the chicken into another container and moved it into the freezer for later in the week!

On Monday, I kept things very simple. My kids love hardboiled eggs so I quickly made some in my air fryer.

Following breakfast and school send off, I started my normal day-to-day of laundry and chores.

Once lunch time approached, I made quesadillas with some beans, fruit, and a bit of our leftover broccoli from the night before.

One thing to note about the pictures of my kids' plates: I tend to go for a less-is-more approach with them. I find that if I put too much food on their plates initially, they get overwhelmed and won't eat as much. They are always welcome to ask for more!

During nap time, I decided to knock out two birds with one stone. I wanted to make Zucchini Carrot Muffins to have on hand for the week — and there were a few ingredients that overlapped with the dinner I had in mind.

For the muffins, I used my food processor to shred some zucchini and carrots and mixed the wet and dry ingredients into separate bowls.

I love that this recipe has a lot of different substitution directions to try and fit into a variety of dietary requirements and preferences. One thing I would do differently next time is to cut my zucchini and carrot into thirds to make the shredded pieces even smaller. I think this would provide a better consistency and texture overall.

Then it was time to get started on dinner. My family loves a classic meatloaf, but when I came across a recipe for Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf, I was instantly intrigued.

My food processor was still out from when I made the muffins, so I dove right in. For this recipe, you use Ritz crackers as a binder for the meatloaf. (And I couldn't think of a better meatloaf ingredient than a buttery, flaky cracker.)

I was able to get the meatloaf totally prepared and in the loaf pan. When it came time to actually cook and eat, all I had to do was pop it in the oven!

If you've read my previous meal plan posts, you'll know that my family loves oatmeal. We have it stocked in our pantry no matter what.

Following breakfast, I had the pleasure of getting a very relaxing facial.

By the time lunch rolled around, I was already exhausted with about 10,000 steps in and lots of emergent false toddler alarms in regards to the bathroom. I had planned to make lunch, but when I came out of the bathroom, I found my youngest had already decided to go a different route.

This led me to a lunch of a thrown-together quesadilla. I didn't eat it with anything else because honestly, the stakes are high when you're potty training a toddler.

Needing to keep things close to home, we spent the afternoon coloring — indoors and out — and enjoying our carrot zucchini muffins as a snack.

By dinner time, my fresh produce quota was pretty minimal and I could feel it. I decided to make a One Pan Italian Chicken Skillet to fill the void.

Due to the chicken already being cooked, I roughly chopped up the breast and waited to fold it into the meal until the last few moments — just enough time for it to warm through.

I was able to get the girls involved with this meal, which was great because that means they were also occupied!

I sautéed all of the vegetables with herbs and balsamic, just cooking enough for the vegetables to be to my desired softness.

When I have a meal that has a lot of different ingredients, I separate each item into their own section for my kids.

We didn't have a lot of leftovers from this meal — just enough for one serving.

If you haven't caught onto a theme yet, we tend to keep breakfast pretty simple in our house. Wednesday morning was scrambled eggs and strawberries!

After sending my oldest to school, we continued on with the potty training saga.

For lunch, I pulled out a few options, including leftovers and our quesadilla ingredients.

My kids picked quesadillas again. I warmed up some of the leftover black beans and cut up an apple on the side.

As for me, I also picked a quesadilla. We were mid week and i was already looking for every way possible to simplify, well... everything.

My family is used to spending a lot of time outdoors, but training meant we weren't quite ready to venture off our property quite yet. We spent time in the afternoon reading magazines and playing with sidewalk chalk.

Like I mentioned before, we were only part way through the week and I was already stressed about my groceries lasting us the week. I needed to come up with something using any of the ingredients I purchased for the week that would have extra. I decided to attempt Fresh Potato Gnocchi.

The first step was to cook the potatoes and separate the inside from the peel, however, I only had baby red potatoes so I wasn't able to get all the peel off. In hindsight, I could have peeled them ahead of time, but I was just following the steps in the recipe.

The last steps in preparing the gnocchi was to roll the dough in long, thin ropes. Then you just cut them into little sections. This was a great recipe to do with kids because a lot of it mirrored how they would play with Play Doh!

I had quite a bit of extra veggies — so I sliced them up and roasted them in the oven with some spices and olive oil.

After boiling the gnocchi for two minutes, I added them to the pan with the vegetables.

At the same time, I knew I wanted to bulk up dinner in some way. I instantly thought of fresh baked bread, but I didn't have any yeast. Instead, I found a No Yeast Bread recipe and made a quick loaf in about 30 minutes.

And this is how the whole meal turned out! As I said, my gnocchi lost its nice shape after I put it in the fridge for a bit, but the flavor was great. Out of all the meals I made in the week, this was the one I was most proud of! Not because it was "the best" one or "most professional", but because I was proud of myself for trying and learning something new!

We took a big family walk around the neighborhood after dinner on Wednesday. This was our first attempt at leaving the house for a longer period of time and it was much needed!

On Thursday morning, I decided to make one of our favorite breakfast treats: Stuffed Bagel Balls.

Once the dough is made, you put a bit of cream cheese inside the dough ball, then finish with what ever topping you like. This time, I chose everything bagel seasoning — but I've also done cinnamon-sugar in the past.

We had a relaxing morning and then it was off to school!

Thursday morning, we went through the entire gamut of home activities: chalk, cleaning, playing in the yard. Then we were ready to test our wings a bit and we went to the garden store to look at some new flowers for summer!

For lunch we kept things easy with leftovers (not pictured is some leftover mac and cheese from the other day).

For afternoon nap/quiet time, we did a little "homework".

Dinner was one of my favorite meals: Sheet Pan Shrimp Boil.

all the ingredients on the counter

This recipe comes together on one sheet pan — so prep is mostly just slicing and dicing. (You do give your potatoes and corn a quick parboil so everything cooks evenly, though.)

Once the ingredients were chopped and on the sheet pan, I coated everything with butter, garlic, and Old Bay.

Here's how it turned out! If I closed my eyes, I could see myself eating this near a beach somewhere!

On Friday morning, my son woke with extreme vigor over being the one to claim the last few bagel bites.

After breakfast there were more activities at home — this time our favorite puzzles and some home workouts.

Now by this point, I was OUT of planned recipes. I had rushed my planning and preparation when ordering my groceries, made silly mistakes, and now was facing the reality of that.

Thankfully, children are creatures of habit and they asked for quesadillas again for lunch. Maybe a bit repetitive by this point, but who am I to argue?

plates with quesadillas, strawberries, and black beans

I needed to take a quick inventory to see what I could come up with for dinner. I pulled out crackers left from the meatloaf, lots of carrots (more than just the two pictured), and eggs.

I made a bread coating for the chicken using spices and the Ritz crackers in my food processor. I then did a quick coating of cornstarch, egg, and then the cracker coating.

It's funny how the meals I was most proud of this week were the ones I really just needed to get creative and figure something out. The gnocchi was a good opportunity to learn and try something new. This "happy meal" was so flavorful and juicy that I gave myself another pat on the back for being creative with the things I had laying around.

By Saturday, everyone was a little sour my son got to have the last few bagel bites, including him. How dare he eat the last ones and not save any for...himself. 😌

After breakfast, we headed over to our community park where we were able to learn about all of the different community resources in our area.

Afterwards, lunch was leftover happy meals.

The best part about kids is that they think the most simple things are the best. (And honestly, they aren't wrong!) That night, we decided to do breakfast for dinner and made eggs, pancakes, and finished our strawberries.

The wind in Colorado was out of control so we did some family games to finish off our evening.

Sunday morning breakfast was (you guessed it!) leftover bagel bites. Quite frankly, we were absolutely running out of food from the week.

During breakfast, I used my air fryer to hardboil some eggs again.

Again, when I cook my eggs this way, they peel so easily. The ice bath afterward helps pull the membrane away from the egg so once they are peeled, I'm not left with huge chunks missing from my egg whites.

My son has been really into "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" lately. He's become very intrigued at the parts where they apparently talk about egg salad — so he asked if we could try it.

I added some seasoning and spices to our eggs and mixed it all together. I winged this a bit, but here's a similar egg salad recipe if you're looking to re-create it.

I served it with some remaining apples and we all watched my son with intense anticipation to see if his book-inspired dreams would be everything he hoped for.

And that was my week! WHOA. This was a tough one. With rising food costs, I realized I need to get much more strategic with my planning.

I also feel like this week further cemented the importance of utilizing things you already have in your pantry or freezer. Had I not had to re-buy staples (like my flour, sugars, oats, etc), I likely would have had enough in my budget for another whole meal. So don't forget about those simple items and how resourceful they can be!

Also, based on some past comments I've received, I just want to reiterate that this meal plan isn't meant to be one-size-fits-all. Your household may have larger appetites, bigger families, older kids, and/or a higher cost of living that would require a bigger budget all around. But the main takeaway I'd love to offer is simply how a bit of planning, budgeting, and organization can really help set you up for success in whatever budget you may require.

Still, I hope that this provides some inspiration for new recipes, new planning ideas, or how to work with whatever your budget may be. You can find more of my articles with weeks worth of plans here!

For more, follow me on Instagram at @sydneyinsuburbia. That's where I give step-by-step breakdowns on how I plan my weeks, shop, and cook — hopefully helping you to do it, too!